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June 19, 2020 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Editor’s Note: We are in the process of reducing our supply of books and are offering them to interested readers at a substantial discount. The books available, all in mint condition, are Catholic Replies and Catholic Replies 2 (both $17.95), All Generations Will Call Me Blessed and Who Do You Say That I Am? (both $10.95), and Catholicism & Reason (Apologetics), Catholicism & Scripture (Salvation History), and Catholicism & Life (Commandments and Sacraments), each $14.95.
The books can be had for 50 percent off for 1 to 25 books, 60 percent off for 26 to 50 books, and 70 percent off for over 50 books. You can learn more about each of these books by visiting www.crpublications.com. Don’t order from the website, however, since it automatically charges full price. If you know pastors, schools, home schools, or parish religious education programs who would benefit from these books, please have them get in touch with us at the address below. All orders must be paid by check.

Q. I have heard the term “concupiscence” referred to many times, and it is often used in association with the tendency toward sins against purity, chastity, and morality. Am I correct, however, in my understanding that concupiscence is actually an inherent or intrinsic condition of our human existence toward any and all sin and is a result of original sin? Baptism removes from us the stain of original sin, but concupiscence remains throughout our life. Only through the grace of God and the gift of the Holy Spirit are we given the means to conquer and turn away from the direction in which concupiscence leads. I would appreciate a more definitive understanding of why concupiscence remains with us even after Baptism. — M.O., Maryland.
A. Your understanding is correct. In his Modern Catholic Dictionary, Fr. John Hardon, SJ, defines concupiscence as “the propensity of human nature to sin as a result of Original Sin. More commonly, it refers to the spontaneous movement of the sensitive appetites toward whatever the imagination portrays as pleasant and away from whatever it portrays as painful. However, concupiscence also includes the unruly desires of the will, such as pride, ambition, and envy.”
Fr. Hardon refers more specifically to “concupiscence of the eyes,” which he says is “an unwholesome curiosity and an inordinate love of this world’s goods,” such as “an inordinate love of money,” or the desire “to acquire material possessions irrespective of the means employed, or merely to satisfy one’s ambitions, or to nurture one’s pride.”
He also mentions “concupiscence of the flesh,” which he describes as “the inordinate love of sensual pleasure, to which fallen man is naturally prone. It is inordinate when pleasure is sought as an end in itself and apart from its divinely intended purpose: to facilitate the practice of virtue and satisfy one’s legitimate desires.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is replete with references to concupiscence (cf. nn. 405, 1264, and 1426), but paragraphs 2514-2515 are worth quoting in their entirety:
“St. John distinguishes three kinds of covetousness or concupiscence: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life [1 John 2:16]. In the Catholic catechetical tradition, the ninth commandment forbids carnal concupiscence; the tenth forbids coveting another’s goods.
“Etymologically, ‘concupiscence’ can refer to any intense form of human desire. Christian theology has given it a particular meaning: the movement of the sensitive appetite contrary to the operation of human reason. The Apostle St. Paul identifies it with the rebellion of the ‘flesh’ against the ‘spirit’ [Gal. 5:16, 17, 24; Eph. 2:3]. Concupiscence stems from the disobedience of the first sin. It unsettles man’s moral faculties and, without being in itself an offense, inclines man to commit sins [Gen. 3:11; Council of Trent: DS 1515].”

Q. What are the differences, if any, between watching a live Mass on TV or watching a recorded Mass? — T.C., New York.
A. None that we can think of. Neither one of course is an adequate substitute for actually attending Mass in church, primarily because of the opportunity to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. A spiritual Communion is better than no Communion at all, as many Catholics have discovered during the time of pandemic. But watching Mass on TV is not “simply going through the motions without real effect, especially without sacramental reception of the Eucharist,” said Dr. Denis McNamara in the May 2020 issue of Adoremus Bulletin. He said that “in one sense, a live-streamed Mass is, in fact, a deprivation of liturgical fullness that can bring heartache.”
On the other hand, he continued, “consolation can be found in remembering that every Mass involves every member of the Mystical Body, and so has an objective efficacy in God’s continuing creation of the world. This objective sanctification continues in what the Catechism calls the ‘work of the Trinity’ — united by the love of the Holy Spirit, Christ offers Himself and the world continuously to the Father even when priests offer Mass alone in their churches and their parishioners participate through a TV or computer screen.”

Q. Does not Matt. 23:12 contradict Matt. 25:14-30? — G.P., via e-mail.
A. Let’s look at the two citations and see. In Matt. 23:12, Jesus says that “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” In Matt. 25:14-30, Jesus tells the Parable of the Talents, where a man gives three servants one, two, and five talents, respectively, and then leaves on a journey. When he returns, he asks the men for an accounting of their stewardship. The man with five talents doubled them and received his master’s praise and the promise of being given greater responsibilities. Likewise, the man who was given two talents, and produced two more, was lauded for his efforts and promised greater responsibilities.
The third servant, however, had shown no initiative, but out of fear of the master buried his coin in the ground. “You wicked, lazy servant!” the master shouted, saying that the man should at least have put the money in the bank and collected interest. He ordered that his one talent be given to the man with ten and said, “Throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
The lesson of the parable is that we are to use well whatever blessings and abilities God has given us. Personal diligence brings great rewards, such as a place in the Kingdom of God, while laziness results in being excluded from the Kingdom. Note that the lazy servant is also described as “wicked,” which could mean that he was envious that the other servants got more talents than he did and that he buried the coin to spite his master and prevent him from gaining anything from his investment.
In any case, we don’t see a contradiction in the two passages. In the first, Jesus is praising the virtue of humility, the recognition that one’s achievements should be attributed more to God’s blessings than to one’s own efforts. He is also criticizing the vice of pride, of trying to take personal credit for all one’s accomplishments.
In the second passage, Jesus is praising earnest and persevering application of one’s talents, while criticizing the slothful who deliberately squander opportunities to attain a place in the Kingdom. The actions of the two enterprising servants have nothing to do with humility or exaltation, but rather with the proper use of one’s God-given abilities.

Q. During the coronavirus crisis, why cannot penitents phone in their Confessions? Not good for normal times, understood, but why not during the current crisis? — G.P., via e-mail.
A. In a March 27 memo to U.S. bishops, Archbishop Leonard Blair of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy said that “the sacrament is not to be celebrated via cell phone.” He said that “where the individual faithful find themselves in the painful impossibility of receiving sacramental absolution, it should be remembered that perfect contrition, coming from the love of God, beloved above all things, expressed by a sincere request for forgiveness (that which the penitent is at present able to express) and accompanied…by the firm resolution to have recourse, as soon as possible, to sacramental Confession, obtains forgiveness of sins, even mortal sins.”

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Its no wonder < 30% of Catholics believe in the Real Presence - when a bishop of the Church publicly proclaims communion for a baby killer.

Cardinal Zen could not get a meeting with the Pope about the religious persecution of the faithful in China, but…. (And no masks at the Vatican?)

In the days ahead this nation will test the rule of law - the likes of which haven't been seen in modern time. Our country is at risk.

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Catechism

Today . . .

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

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